Savate: The French Martial Art with Kicks and Fists

Savate is a French martial art that is known for its distinctive style of kicks and punches. Unlike most martial arts, Savate uses the hands and feet in equal measure, making it a very versatile fighting style. The art is steeped in tradition and history, dating back to the 18th century when it was originally developed as a way to defend oneself on the rough streets of France.

The name Savate comes from the French word “savate,” which means “old shoe.” In the early days of the art, practitioners would often remove one shoe and use it as a weapon, kicking their opponents with the heavy wooden soles. Over time, the art evolved to include a wide range of kicks and punches that were designed to be effective in real-life self-defense situations.

Today, Savate is practiced by thousands of people all over the world, both as a form of self-defense and as a competitive sport. While it may not be as well-known as more popular martial arts like karate and taekwondo, Savate has a dedicated following among those who appreciate its unique style and heritage.

The Techniques of Savate

One of the most distinctive features of Savate is its use of kicks. Practitioners of the art are known for their lightning-fast kicks that can strike an opponent from many angles. These kicks are delivered with a lot of force, using a combination of the leg muscles and the momentum of the body.

In addition to the kicks, Savate also incorporates a wide range of punches and other hand techniques. These techniques are designed to be fast and accurate, allowing the practitioner to strike quickly and effectively in close-quarters combat.

Another key feature of Savate is its emphasis on footwork. Practitioners are taught to move quickly and fluidly, using footwork to create openings for strikes and to avoid incoming attacks. This emphasis on agility and mobility is what makes Savate such a versatile martial art.

The Benefits of Practicing Savate

Like any martial art, practicing Savate is a great way to improve your overall fitness and physical health. The art is a full-body workout that will improve your strength, endurance, and flexibility. It’s also a great way to learn self-defense skills that could prove invaluable in real-life situations.

But beyond the physical benefits, Savate also offers many mental benefits. Practicing the art requires focus, discipline, and dedication, all of which can help you develop a strong sense of self-confidence and self-esteem. Plus, the competitive nature of the sport can be a great way to build camaraderie and make new friends.


Savate may not be as well-known as some of the more popular martial arts, but it is a truly unique and fascinating style of fighting. With its emphasis on kicks, punches, and footwork, Savate offers a different experience from many other martial arts. Whether you’re looking to improve your fitness, learn self-defense skills, or just try something new, Savate is definitely worth exploring.

Savate: The French Martial Art with Kicks and Fists: Most-Asked Questions Answered

Savate is a French martial art that originated in the streets of France in the late 18th century. It’s a striking-based martial art that combines kicks and punches with an elegant and graceful technique. The sport is gaining popularity and recognition worldwide, but many people have questions about Savate. In this post, we’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions about this beautiful martial art.

What is the meaning of the word „Savate“?

Savate is a French word that means „old shoe.“ The name refers to the footwear that the French used to wear when practicing this form of martial art on the streets of Paris. It began as a self-defense system for the lower class, and fighters often had to adapt to their surroundings, using objects like chairs, canes, or tables.

What are the rules of Savate?

The rules of Savate are quite simple. Fighters use their fists and feet to strike their opponents. They can punch, kick, or use a combination of both. However, only kicks and punches above the waist are allowed. The use of elbows, knees, and headbutts is not allowed.

What are the different types of kicks in Savate?

In Savate, there are various kicks, each serving a different purpose. Some of the most common kick types include:

  • Chassé: This is a frontal kick that uses the ball of the foot. It is often aimed at the opponent’s thigh or knee.
  • Fouetté: A whip-like kick that targets the opponent’s face or head. It is performed using the toes and is one of the most difficult kicks to master.
  • Coup de pied bas: This low kick targets the opponent’s shin or knee. It is a swift and powerful kick that can devastate an opponent’s leg.
  • Revers: A spinning kick that can be performed using both the front or back foot. It can be used to surprise an opponent and create distance.

What are the benefits of Savate?

Savate is a great sport for people of all ages and fitness levels. It has numerous benefits that can improve your overall health and wellbeing. Some of the most notable benefits include:

  • Improved flexibility: The kicks and footwork in Savate require a high degree of flexibility, which can help improve overall flexibility and movement.
  • Increased stamina: Savate is a high-intensity sport that can improve cardiovascular endurance and overall stamina.
  • Self-defense: Savate was originally developed as a self-defense system, and it’s still effective today. It can give you the confidence to protect yourself if the need arises.
  • Stress relief: Like most martial arts, Savate can help relieve stress and anxiety. It’s a great way to clear your mind and focus on something positive.

What equipment do I need for Savate?

Savate requires minimal equipment. At a minimum, you’ll need gloves, shin guards, and mouthguards. Some people also wear headgear and chest protectors. As you progress, you may need additional equipment, such as a punching bag or focus mitts.

Is Savate dangerous?

Like any martial art, there is always a risk of injury when practicing Savate. However, it’s important to note that Savate is relatively safe compared to other martial arts. The rules are designed to minimize the risk of serious injury, and the focus on technique and control helps prevent accidental injuries.

How long does it take to master Savate?

The amount of time it takes to master Savate varies depending on the individual. Some people may take years to master the basics, while others may progress more quickly. Generally, it takes at least a few months of consistent practice to become proficient in Savate.

Is Savate a good workout?

Absolutely! Savate is a full-body workout that can burn a significant number of calories. The kicks and footwork require a lot of leg strength and endurance, while the punches work your upper body.

Is Savate a competitive sport?

Yes, Savate is a competitive sport that is practiced worldwide. There are various competitions and tournaments held throughout the year, and many countries have national Savate associations.

Conclusion: Give Savate a Try!

Savate is a beautiful and elegant martial art that offers numerous health and fitness benefits. Whether you’re looking to learn a new self-defense system, get in shape, or just try something new, Savate is definitely worth considering. If you’re interested in learning more about Savate, we encourage you to reach out to a local Savate club or instructor and give it a try!

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